Seven Miles Out
AT Seven Miles Out we give community groups and organisations a platform to convey their message through arts and music events, film screenings, presentations and talks.
This year we’ve put on events to raise awareness of the first Stockport Pride, Idahot Day, sustainable living, the Everyday Austerity exhibition and Black History Month.
We feel it’s very important to document Stockport’s contemporary social history and this Thursday we are delighted to be hosting an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Roberts Arundel strike in Stockport, one of the biggest strikes in the history of the Trade Union Movement.
An exhibition organised by Stockport Trades Union Council is now showing at Stockport Local Heritage Library in the Central Library, Wellington Road South, Monday to Saturday until early December.
Throughout 1967, Stockport captured national headlines. One hundred and fifty workers walked out late November 1966 when their new boss Robert Pomeranz from North Carolina refused to talk to the union. The issue was his decision to start a handful of women working at a lower rate than men had been paid for doing the same work until Pomeranz had made them redundant a few weeks earlier.
The dispute quickly escalated when in less than a week he sacked every striker – only four shop floor workers didn’t join the action – and immediately advertised 235 jobs in the Manchester Evening News. Despite numerous attempts to settle the dispute, the strike lasted until April 1968 when Pomeranz finally closed the factory.
The strikers quickly organised support. They visited hundreds of factories, warehouses, haulage companies and docks to ask for workers to refuse to handle Roberts Arundel goods.
At Manchester Airport, ground staff told KLM to remove a machine from a cargo plane or no KLM flight would ever take off from Manchester Airport again.
Together with other donations, a weekly levy of engineering workers across Stockport, Manchester, Ashton and Oldham raised £95,000 – equivalent to £1,500,000 today.
In February 1967, a mass picket with support from workers at the Shell Carrington site, marched to the factory and put a brick through every one of its windows. In September and October the Stockport Trades Union Council organised Weeks of Action with workers joining the picket every weekday morning and afternoon and a march and rally in Stockport on Saturday.
Drawing on the archives of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, local photographer Darren Ord has scanned and mounted the images which show how the strike made Stockport national news for over a year.
This Thursday, November 16, at 7pm, local labour movement historian Geoff Brown will use a short illustrated talk to lead a discussion of the importance of the strike.
Stockport Trades Union Council President Sharza Dethick looks forward to people visiting the exhibition and leaving their comments. In her view, the dispute: “Is an important example of people’s support for dignity and justice at work.
“Stockport can be proud of the solidarity shown during the strike.
“We still need such solidarity today.”
We hope you can join us for this stimulating presentation and discussion.
For more information on our up and coming events at www.sevenmilesoutarts.co.uk
●●A picture from the Roberts Arundel strike archive – courtesy of the Working Class Movement Library